Sites - Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs)
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Parc National du Niokolo-Koba
13o 2.00' West 12o 55.00' North
16 - 311m
Year of IBA assessment
Site description The park lies in south-eastern Senegal, straddling the upper Gambia river and its tributaries (the Koulountou and the Niokolo-Koba), and close to and, in part, along the international frontier with Guinea, where it is contiguous with Badiar National Park (GN001). The park is largely flat, but includes a line of low hills in the east, reaching up to around 200 m (maximum 311 m at Mont Assirik). Much of the area is formed from laterite (iron pans) and sediments overlying Cambrian sandstone beds that outcrop in places. There are large areas of flood-plain and marsh (mainly in abandoned riverbeds and behind levées), inundated during the seasonal rains (June to October); mean annual rainfall is over 1,000 mm. The vegetation includes southern Sudan–Guinea savanna, with gallery forest and more luxuriant vegetation along watercourses and Vetiveria grasses or herbaceous savanna dominated by Andropogon gayanus in the valleys and plains. Flooded grassland areas are composed of Paspalum orbiculare and Echinocloa sp. Dry forest contains patches of bamboo Oxytenanthera abyssinica. The ravines and gallery forest include typical plant species of the Guinea–Congo Forest biome such as lianas and Raphia sudanica, Baissea multiflora, Nauclea latifolia, Dalbergia saxatilis and Landolphia dulcis. The vegetation on the slopes and hills, rocky outcrops, alluvial sands and iron pans is different. Semi-aquatic species and annuals appear along rivers and on periodically inundated sands. Dry forest or herbaceous savanna is found along the borders of some ponds, and thickets of thorn-bush, Mimosa pigra, occupy the centre of some marshes. Marsh vegetation on higher ground and acid soils includes Oryza brachyantha (wild rice) and, on humid banks, localized species such as Christiana africana, Cola laurifolia, Cynometra vogelii, Syzygium guineense, and Ziziphus amphibia occur. Riverbank species also include Acacia nilotica, Khaya senegalensis, Erythrophleum guineense, Ceiba pentandra, Afzelia africana and Borassus sp. Over 1,500 plant species have been recorded in the park.
Key Biodiversity See Box and Table 2 for key species. A total of 330 bird species has been recorded from the site, including sporadic records of two species of global conservation concern. Marmaronetta angustirostris has been observed wintering in the park and there is also one record of a pair with three chicks in April 1979. There are a number of records of Falco naumanni on the site during January, including one record of c.80 birds in 1980. The restricted-range Lagonosticta virata has been recorded from a site c.30 km north of the park boundary. Information about the species’ presence in this area is lacking, but if further survey work finds that suitable habitat is present and the species appears to be well established this could justify extending the boundary of this IBA to include the relevant area. This is the only IBA in Senegal in which the biome-restricted Camaroptera chloronata has been recorded (see Table 2). The first African Waterbird Census of the site in 1997 recorded 2,500 Plectropterus gambensis; large numbers of the Afrotropical ducks Dendrocygn bicolor and D. viduata also use the park’s wetlands.
Non-bird biodiversity: Records from the park include 80 mammal species, 38 reptiles, 20 amphibians and 60 fish, as well as numerous invertebrates. Carnivores include Lycaon pictus (EN). The only Senegalese populations of the mammals Taurotragus derbianus (LR/nt) and Loxodonta africana (EN) are found in the park. There are also around 150 Pan troglodytes (EN) living in the gallery forest and on the slopes of Mont Assirik, at the north-west limit of their distribution. All three African crocodiles occur in the park, including Crocodylus cataphractus (DD) and Osteolaemus tetraspis (VU).